Sunday, February 19, 2006

Recent Bonfires- 4

In the news this week:

£57m pa lost on drop-out nurses- "A quarter of trainee nurses quit their courses before completion, costing the taxpayer £57 million a year. Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act indicates a much higher drop-out rate than figures quoted by the Government. In some courses, leaving rates were as high as 50 per cent. The average attrition across diploma and degree courses was 24.8 per cent, compared with a Government figure of 16 per cent. Training is estimated to cost £11,479 a year per nurse, including their bursary." (Daily Telegraph 15.02.06)

£90m wasted on new BBC buildings- "The Public Accounts Committee accuses the BBC of giving "excessive returns" to a private property consortium for three new buildings, a broadcast centre, media centre and an energy centre - using waste energy to heat the entire complex. The BBC paid out an extra £31m to accept the £210m Land Securities tender over the nearest shortlisted bidder, then spent another £60.9m fitting out the building with state-of-the-art technology and furniture. But the buildings were commissioned before the BBC decided to cut staff... A year after the buildings were completed, 22.5% of the offices were empty...the energy centre has been left as a shell. Plans for the green combined heat and power scheme have still not been commissioned... The corporation is also accused of letting some space at subsidised rents to a commercial subsidiary, BBC Broadcast Ltd, which breaks the rules of the BBC charter." (Guardian 14.02.06)

£55m pa wasted on court failures- "More than £55 million a year is being wasted by police and prosecutors because hearings in magistrates' courts do not go ahead as planned, the National Audit Office says. The fault is shared equally between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service. Insufficient evidence is the most common cause of delay for which the CPS is responsible, accounting for four cases in every 10 that fail to go ahead as scheduled. For example, a defendant charged with throwing a missile during a football match was said by police to have been recorded on CCTV. It took a year to establish that the recording did not exist. Three delays out of 10 were caused by prosecutors' failure to take action. The audit office quotes a case in which the CPS failed to establish that the police had lost contact with a complainant and allowed the case to proceed for another three months until the trial date, when the proceedings were finally dismissed after 10 hearings." (Daily Telegraph 15.02.06)

£412m pa squandered on "April Fool" arts projects- "Among dozens of projects the Arts Council has chosen to fund with public money... a project about the "Israeli occupation of Palestine"- it gave the artist Catherine Yass £24,442 to film a journey along the Israeli/Palestinian border. Taxi-onomy, which apparently explores the black cab's capacity for "metro processing and spatial understanding", received £5,000. One would-be writer was given £4,600 so he could spend nine months in Buenos Aires "trying to get under the skin of the city". Another artist was given £1,750 to spend seven weeks in Paraguay studying lace, while a disabled artist from Bamako in Mali was given £4,995 to travel to Britain to teach "young offenders" and children how "to dye cloth using river mud". (Sunday Telegraph 19.02.06)

Total for the week- £614 millions

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